Thacker’s Decision to Withdraw Name From PACHA Appointment ‘Better for Everyone,’ Editorial Says
"It's better for everyone" that Jerry Thacker, an HIV-positive marketing consultant, last week withdrew his name from an appointment to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette states in an editorial (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/26). Thacker, who has reportedly called AIDS a "gay plague" and homosexuality a "deathstyle," withdrew his name after the White House, Democratic lawmakers and AIDS and gay-rights advocates criticized his appointment (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/24). Although his "open hostility to a large class of people with HIV made him unqualified to serve," the Post-Gazette states that Thacker "could have been just the kind of messenger to build AIDS awareness among heterosexuals." Thacker, who contracted HIV from his wife after she became infected through a blood transfusion, "still rails [against homosexuality] on the Web site of the Scepter Institute," which he founded as a not-for-profit organization to sell religious-based AIDS education material that promotes abstinence, the editorial states. "Given his statements on the subject, [Thacker] would have expressed a two-tiered concern for HIV carriers: more for the heterosexuals and less for the gays," the Post-Gazette says, adding that he "would have polarized the advisory commission." The editorial says that Thacker can express his views on AIDS and homosexuality "in his church or on his Web site, but that's not what the public deserved from a presidential commission." The Post-Gazette concludes, "President Bush, the 'compassionate conservative,' named a conservative with suspect compassion to this panel" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1/26).
'Bad News' About Thacker
Although the fact that Thacker was "gone within hours" of his PACHA appointment is "good news, ... [t]he bad news is that [he] ... came so close to serving on a commission designed to advise the president on how to most effectively combat the pandemic disease," a Baltimore Sun editorial says. Although diverse opinions are valuable to the commission, "stopping the wildfire of AIDS that is afflicting men, women and children around the world is far too grave a problem to waste time on ideas that are bigoted and in most instances useless," the editorial states. The editorial concludes that Thacker "expressed thoughts that while perhaps once in vogue in certain narrow circles have no legitimate place at the table where today's public policy is made. This isn't a matter of political correctness. It's enlightenment" (Baltimore Sun, 1/27).